The EquipmentShare Foundation and EquipmentShare Home Office in Columbia, Missouri, hosted a drive-thru light show Dec. 14 -17 benefitting The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri and the Voluntary Action Center.
The drive-thru light show began in 2020 as a way to safely celebrate the holidays with employees and area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and has grown each year, both in the number of lights and participants.
More than half a million lights were used in the 2022 show to set several large construction machines aglow. People who came to the show were treated to popcorn, cookies, coloring books and construction hats for the kids. Over four nights, 2,034 vehicles came to experience the light show, and The EquipmentShare Foundation collected $6,554 and 2,680 pounds of food for donation.
As a volunteer-run event, 180 EquipmentShare employees made sure the nights ran smoothly. Some of them even stepped in to take on the role of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Temperatures hovered near freezing, but the festive couple’s hearts were warmed by the visitors.
“The best part of the night was when the cars drove by and you could hear the kids yelling from their seats and you could hear their excitement – they were priceless,” said Cindy Hudson, employee relations manager, who volunteered as Mrs. Claus. “When a parent said thank you, that just meant a lot knowing we played a part in a special family outing. My favorite was a little boy that told Santa not to let the Grinch steal the presents, and Santa yelled back, ‘You know I won’t!’"
Speaking of the Grinch, Santa and the Mrs. were joined by that green guy from Whoville — except he wasn’t so grinchy. Preferring to remain anonymous, the Columbia Grinch has been volunteering for years in the community, devoting his time to giving back near the holidays. Helping at fundraisers, delivering blankets to the local NICU and pretending to steal presents at The EquipmentShare Foundation light show is just for fun — his day job happens to be as a delivery driver for EquipmentShare.
“We’ve spent every weekend for the past four years in December buying toys, going out and giving gifts to every kid that we see. Christmas is the time for family and community. And instead of getting paid to do that, I'm determined to give back at the holidays with every hug, gift, smile, laugh and memory I am able to help create,” the EquipmentShare Grinch said. “Volunteering for me is simply about the good feeling that comes from it.”
One thing each volunteer echoed is how much they love being part of a company and foundation doing so much in the community.
“It was definitely cold and uncomfortable, but you looked around and saw dozens of people directing traffic, handing out goodies, fixing displays or running hand-warmers and hot beverages to one another. You know we work for a great company when all of these folks are out here in the bitter cold, late into the night — completely voluntarily,” said Jonny Yates, project manager. “It was a pretty long three hours because of the weather, but everyone was laughing, dancing to keep warm, waving at the cars and greeting visitors with a ‘Merry Christmas!’ It didn’t feel like the holidays yet to me until the night of the light show and seeing everyone out there volunteering put a little of that holiday spirit in my system. I work with some really great people.”
This is the third year for Santa’s Work Crew Drive-Thru Light Show. This year was even more special because it was powered for the first time by The EquipmentShare Foundation, a nonprofit supported by EquipmentShare employees, customers, OEM partners, contractors and more. The foundation is dedicated to building and bettering the communities EquipmentShare calls home.
Thank you to our sponsors for their financial support of the light show, as well as equipment sponsorships :
Emery Sapp and Sons
MU Health Care
Mizzou Sports Properties
Real Property Group
Precision Construction Services
Iron Gate Real Estate - Freddy Spencer
To learn more about The EquipmentShare Foundation, visit its website at https://equipmentsharefoundation.org/